Toronto FC interim head coach Javier Perez insists his side can still make up the gap on the playoffs if they are able to maintain their current form.
The Reds have turned their season around since Perez stepped up from his position as assistant to replace Chris Armas a month ago.
Following a run of six losses in a row to conclude Armas’ disappointing tenure, Toronto have since gone five without defeat, winning two of those matches.
There was a sense of disappointment at squandering the lead to draw 1-1 with Nashville SC last time out, but Perez is remaining upbeat at his side’s playoff prospects.
“We need urgency to get more points and get closer to the teams around the playoff positions, but we have to remember that we are not even halfway through the season,” he said.
“We have 45 more minutes to play. We still have half the games in front of us. What is more important is that you cannot rush into the games. You need to focus on the process.
“We are in a good place now to build upon everything we have been working on previously and get better performances in order to get the points.”
Toronto head into Wednesday’s match with Philadelphia Union occupying 10th place in the Eastern Conference, eight points adrift of the top-seven spots.
The Union have slipped down to fifth after winning just one of their last seven games, but head coach Jim Curtin believes it is just a matter of time before things click back into gear.
“I have a strong belief in this group that once that goal does go in, I think the floodgates can open for us,” he said.
“We have to improve in the final third. I think we’d all agree we created enough chances in the draw with Chicago Fire. Now it’s about executing and finishing off those chances.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Philadelphia Union – Kacper Przybylko
The 28-year-old striker’s run of scoring in three straight games, against D.C. United, Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF, came to an end when firing a blank versus Chicago Fire. With Sergio Santos facing a suspension, Przybylko will likely be tasked with leading the line on his own on Wednesday. The Union could do with their star striker getting back on the scoring trail.
Toronto FC – Omar Gonzalez
One of the key aspects of Toronto’s turnaround has been a stronger defensive unit, even if there is still room for improvement. Gonzalez has been a steady presence at the back during the Reds’ unbeaten run and helped his side to a point against Nashville with his first goal since September 2019.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Philadelphia have won two of their last three matches against Toronto (L1) after going winless in the previous 11 matches (D2 L9, including playoffs). The Union last won consecutive matches over Toronto during a three-match winning run from October 2013 to September 2014.
– The Union have won just one of their last seven matches (D4 L2), including none of the last three (D2 L1). Philadelphia have allowed a goal in all seven of those matches after keeping five clean sheets in their previous seven games.
– Toronto are unbeaten in five straight matches (W2 D3) after a six-match losing streak that resulted in a coaching change. Toronto have allowed six goals in those five matches following their 7-1 defeat to D.C. United in Chris Armas’ final match as head coach.
– Philadelphia outshot Chicago 25-4 in their 1-1 draw against the Fire on Sunday, the fourth time in club history the Union have outshot an opponent by 20 in a match. It was the first time they did so but failed to win since June 2014 against Vancouver (+22 in a draw).
– Omar Gonzalez scored his first goal since September 2019, scoring Toronto’s lone goal in their 1-1 draw with Nashville on Sunday. The goal was Gonzalez’s 16th in MLS and the 14th he has scored with his head.